Demoing HIGH end gear. How?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Evan S, Jul 11, 2002.

  1. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    Here's my question...
    As most of us know, the best way to determine if a component belongs in your system is the in home demo. When you are looking to purchase mid-fi gear, chances are there are a lot of great companies out there you can choose from (Rotel, Anthem, Paradigm, Klipsch, Adcom, Parasound, etc) and there may be not only one, but numerous local dealers willing to let you try out their gear with an in home demo.
    Once you build a system and want to upgrade to the better stuff (Levinson, Krell, Theta, JM Labs, Dynaudio, etc.), chances are you may only have one dealer for each maker and that dealer could be 90 miles or more away (the closest dynaudio dealer to me is over an hour and a half away).
    How do you demo the stuff if there is no local dealer or if some of the amps weigh over 100lbs? At the prices of some of the high end gear, you just can't WING it, you have to hear them first, but a dealer demo tells you next to nothing.
    Opinions? I'm not quite in the range to upgrade to the better gear, but I'm getting there and I don't want to drive halfway across the face of the earth to do my A/B comparisons. Maybe I should move to NYC[​IMG]
     
  2. Mike Matheson

    Mike Matheson Second Unit

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    Evan,

    I start by doing a demo at the facility in question. I call ahead to be sure the setup will be what I need. I bring my soundmeter and a notebook to keep track of observations. I've even brought my own components on some occasions (sources, preamp/processor, amp, wires). And of course always use demo pieces that you're very, very familiar with. I may have to visit a couple of different dealers doing this until I'm down to only one or two items.

    Then, yes, if possible, I try to A/B them--at home preferably, otherwise I've sometimes gotten lucky finding a dealer carrying both lines (then I've got to drag over my components/pieces again).

    Painstaking, but eventually I'm a happy guy. Guess it falls into your "drive halfway across the face of the earth" category though. And then maybe some.

    An alternative I've done is to simply buy the component used when I see a great price on it. Use it for a couple weeks/months, then if it's not everything I desire, sell it on Audiogon. If I bought it at a good price I may even make a little on the sale. . .
     
  3. Matt Jesty

    Matt Jesty Second Unit

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    As a dealer ,I used to earn a lot of new customers by staying after hours waiting for them to bring over new amps,speakers,etc., bought at my competition in order to do side-by-sides (or blind comparisons if they brought their friends)...I would say to these perspective customers "if you can't decide which one, go to store xyz and buy theirs and bring it in here after hours one night and I'll A/B them for you"....try asking a dealer that you are on good terms with to do this for you...most of the time these people would end up taking the competitions piece of gear back and coming back and buying from me....
     
  4. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Sorry.....
    My local Linn/Levinson/Theil/Magnepan/Bryston/etc. dealer Gifted Listener Audio is 2 miles from my house. Come to think of it the local Conrad/Johnson (as well as many others) dealer where I used to live (Wynnewood, PA on the R5 main line right outside Philly) was 2 miles away. Is this a trend?
    Wish I could afford the stuff. [​IMG] But hey I did spend $85 on a nice new Audio Technica cart for my turntable there recently. [​IMG] And I've bought audiophile records there, too.
    I do have my eye on a Rega Planar 2........ [​IMG]
     
  5. Matt Gordon

    Matt Gordon Supporting Actor

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    The local Krell/Dynaudio/Martin Logan/Transparent/etc. dealer in St. Louis allows you to take stuff home and audition it in your own environment on your own time. I think this is the best way to evaluate equipment.


    [Edited for spelling]
     
  6. PalauE

    PalauE Auditioning

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    which particular store was this, Matt? I don't remember seeing those brands at the Sound Room or Hi-fi-fo-fum.
     
  7. Matt Gordon

    Matt Gordon Supporting Actor

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    PalauE --

    I don't want my post to be construed as advertising for a dealer, so I just sent you a Private Message. Check the bottom of the main HTF page to retreive it.
     
  8. JaleelK

    JaleelK Second Unit

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  9. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Jaleel, I refer to my own home-theater set-up as mid-fi because that's what it is. 'Mid-fi' is an accurate descriptor. Don't get caught up with terms. Buy what you like and can afford and don't worry about what you don't and can't. Period.
     
  10. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    Once again, Jaleel ignores the question posed and attempts to change the topic...

    To the question itself: If asked, many dealers are willing to loan out gear late on Saturday prior to closing the shop if the customer promises to return the product on the following Monday.
     
  11. Doug_B

    Doug_B Screenwriter

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    My auditioning soapbox again [​IMG] :
    IMO, a store audition can narrow down choices, at least for speakers. Once you get to a manageable number, however, it's very hard to make a good decision without the home demo. However, one thing I've noticed when going up to the "more expensive" speakers is that they often are not broken in. Higher end speakers do not get auditioned as much, since there's a smaller market for them. At least, this has been my experience. I guess if you really want to give certain speakers a try and either know or suspect that they haven't been broken in sufficiently (and there are few, if any, other dealers around), it may be worth the time investment to break them in yourself. Hopefully, this can be done via an extended home demo, otherwise...
    As for electronics, I find it nearly impossible to do store demos now. I have planar speakers, so I have a hard time listening to other speakers. Fortunately, my dealer of choice (who is 60 miles away) is very understanding of this (he's an former Maggie owner) so lets me take home electronics with a generous return policy.
    Doug
     
  12. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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  13. JaleelK

    JaleelK Second Unit

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  14. Eric T

    Eric T Second Unit

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    You guys are lucky to have dealers that let you take things home. I just bought a new Denon receiver from a hifi/HT shop here in town, and not only would they not let me audition it at home, but when I asked if I could buy it and then bring it back if I didn't like it, they said no! Fortunately for me, I did like it and want to keep it. Unfortunately in my area there are not a lot of dealers of high-quality gear, so I don't have much choice.

    Next time I will buy online. There are plenty of internet dealers that will take returns, and the prices are cheaper too.
     

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